I hope you are all safe and healthy. Since we cannot yet meet for Sunday School in person, I invite you to share your impressions in the comments below this post.
As with previous posts, I am covering content for the current week of September 7-13. I hope this will be a resource you can return to throughout the week as you ponder the scriptures in quiet moments by yourself and with your family.
Prophecies Fulfilled, Promises Kept
Throughout your scripture study this week, you may notice a recurring emphasis on prophecies and prophets. As you study this week’s chapters, search for references to prophecies being fulfilled. As a start, review the verses below:
To those who lived during this time, the fulfillment of a prophet’s words were a matter of life and death. As you consider how the Lord fulfilled His prophecies anciently, it may be insightful to list covenants and promises the Lord has made with you.
What can you learn from the scriptural accounts of God’s promises with others that might help you watch more steadfastly for His promises to you? Additionally, what are some prophecies or promises that were given by the prophets in the most recent general conference?
Doubt Not, Fear Not
While watching and waiting for God’s promised signs, the Nephites faced very literal danger from all sides (3 Nephi 1:9). As one might expect, such dire circumstances can become internal battlegrounds between fear and faith. As you consider your own internal battles, contrast the two responses to doubt illustrated in the following passages:
|“The people who believed began to be very sorrowful, lest by any means those things which had been spoken might not come to pass.|
“But behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day…that they might know that their faith had not been vain”
|“The people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and they began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard.”|
|3 Nephi 1:7-8||3 Nephi 2:1|
In a later chapter, the armies of Giddianhi attacked the armies of the Nephites. During the charge, the Nephites fell to the earth to plead to the Lord for deliverance. The brief exchange illustrates two very different types of fear:
|“And it came to pass that when the armies of Giddianhi saw this they began to shout with a loud voice, because of their joy, for they had supposed that the Nephites had fallen with fear because of the terror of their armies.||“But in this thing they were disappointed, for the Nephites did not fear them, but they did fear their God and did supplicate him for protection; therefore, when the armies of Giddianhi did rush upon them they were prepared to meet them; yea, in the strength of the Lord they did receive them.|
|3 Nephi 4:9||3 Nephi 4:10|
When the shadow of doubt or fear darkens your faith, how will you respond? Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us of three keys to overcoming doubt:
“In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. When those moments come and issues surface, the resolution of which is not immediately forthcoming, hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.
“When problems come and questions arise, do not start your quest for faith by saying how much you do not have. I am asking you to be true to the faith you do have. Sometimes we act as if an honest declaration of doubt is a higher manifestation of moral courage than is an honest declaration of faith. It is not!
“When doubt or difficulty come, do not be afraid to ask for help. If we want it…humbly and honestly…we can get it.”“Lord, I Believe”, Jeffrey R. Holland
As you build faith despite doubt, remember the words to the hymn “When Faith Endures”:
I will not doubt, I will not fear;
God’s love and strength are always near.
His promised gift helps me to find
An inner strength and peace of mind.
I give the Father willingly
My trust, my prayers, humility.
His Spirit guides; his love assures
That fear departs when faith endures.
Liken the Pride Cycle
As modern-day readers of the Book of Mormon, it is easy to see parallels with our society and the patterns illustrated in 3 Nephi 6. Oftentimes, a study of the so-called pride cycle is reduced to a discussion of the similarities between the “wicked people” of ancient societies and the “wicked people” of modern societies. Such a study is incomplete.
Remember that to liken the scriptures means to understand how the principles and doctrines apply to one’s own life and to use them to become more like the Savior:
To interpret [scripture], one must study what it meant to them, there, then.
To apply [scripture], one must ponder what it means to me, here, now.Teaching the Gospel Handbook, pg. 33-34
As you study 3 Nephi 6, strive to sincerely complete the following exercise: instead of casting judgement outwards, prayerfully reflect inwardly on your own personal commitment to Christ-like living. What aspects of the Nephites’ decline can you recognize in yourself? What antidotes can you prescribe yourself?